Borough Cllr Update – January 2021

Borough Council Report to Parish Councils January 2021 

COVID-19 update 

Bedford was placed into Tier 4 on Sunday 20 November. In Tier 4 people cannot leave Tier 4. In Tier  4 you must not leave or be outside of your home or garden except where you have a ‘reasonable  excuse’. A reasonable excuse includes: 

Work and Volunteering 

Essential activities 

Fulfilling legal obligations 

Education and childcare 

Meeting others and care 

Exercise and recreation 

Medical reasons, harm and compassionate visits 

Communal worship and life events 

You can exercise or visit a public outdoor place: 

by yourself 

with the people you live with 

with your support bubble 

or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household 

You can find more information about the tier regulations on: Tier 4: Stay at Home – GOV.UK  (www.gov.uk) 

In Bedford there has been 5965 cases since the start of the Pandemic and there has been 1127  registered cases in Bedford in the last 7 days. This means there have been 650.3 people per 100,000  in Bedford (as of Dec 27) which has risen by 171.9 over the last 7 days which shows how rapidly the  virus is currently spreading.  

If you would like the latest COVID snapshot (as of Dec 30) please find it below:  

https://bbcdevwebfiles.blob.core.windows.net/webfiles/Social%20Care%20Health%20and%20Com munity/Covid19/covid19-weeky-statistics-30dec.pdf 

More information available at: https://www.bedford.gov.uk/social-care-health-and community/public-health/coronavirus/ 

COVID test centres in Bedford 

There is continued tested in Bedford at Borough Hall and Prebend Street car parks as well as  University of Bedfordshire’s Polhill Campus 

Test results from these sites should come back with 24-72 hours. 

The government has updated its advice on testing. If you have any of the symptoms of Coronavirus,  you can ask for a test through the NHS website or phone 119.

There are two walk through testing centres in Bedford for residents showing symptoms of  Coronavirus. 

Drive-through testing is available 6 days/week at Gilbert Hitchcock House, Bedford Hospital and 5  days/week at Borough Hall. Both can be booked through the national testing website. 

If you’re an essential worker (see full list) you can apply for priority testing through GOV.UK by  following the guidance for essential workers on the government website. 

You can also get tested through this route if you have symptoms of coronavirus and live with an  essential worker. 

If you are unable to get to a testing centre, you can order a home testing kit through the national  testing website. 

You can find further details on testing on the government webpages. 

More information is available here: https://www.bedford.gov.uk/social-care-health-and community/public-health/coronavirus/covid-19-testing/ 

Business Support Grants for Local Businesses 

With the announcement that Bedford Borough entered Tier 4 from Saturday 19 December,  businesses that are required to close will be receiving a business support grant. 

These grants are set and funded by the Government at a national level and administered by Bedford  Borough Council. 

Businesses that received a grant from the Council due to the last national lockdown because their business was required to close, and businesses that were required to close again under the Tier 4 restrictions a further grant will be paid automatically. These businesses have already been contacted  by the Council to let them know when to expect their grant. 

The Council should have sent grants automatically by bank transfer on Monday 21 December, which  means they should already have been received. 

In addition, if a local business ratepayer believes they are eligible for this grant funding but did not  receive a grant during the last lockdown they are asked to fill out the online form at  www.bedford.gov.uk/bsg which will be available from Monday 21 December. 

Any businesses who have not received the grant but believe they should have should contact  Bedford Borough Council to discuss the matter and should there be problems they should contact  their Ward Councillor. 

PSPO to Tackle Street Drinking Comes Into Force 

Following public consultation, Bedford Borough Council has approved a Public Space Protection  Order (PSPO) to tackle street drinking and related anti-social behaviour in the area of Bedford town  centre. This replaces the old Alcohol Free Zones.

This PSPO is set to come into force from Wednesday 16 December and is set to remain in place for  three years initially. 

This PSPO would prohibit people consuming alcohol or having an open container of alcohol in the  defined area, to prevent anti-social behaviour. It covers the town centre from the Embankment in  the south, St Cuthbert’s Street in the east, Landsdowne Road, Roff Avenue and De Parys Avenue in  the north, and Ashburnham Road in the west. 

Once in place, the Order gives the Police and authorised officers’ powers to enforce against those  breaking it. This enforcement can range from asking the person to surrender the alcohol, issuing a  Community Protection Notice, a criminal behaviour order, to issuing a fixed penalty notice. The  Council will continue to offer support for people where appropriate, such as referral to alcohol  support services. 

This PSPO proposal followed a wide-ranging consultation conducted by the Bedford Borough  Community Safety Partnership in 2019, where alcohol-related anti-social behaviour in the town  centre came back as a key concern for people. 

In the consultation to introduce this Order, 90.7% of the over 500 respondents agreed or strongly  agreed with the proposal. 

Public Reminded to Report Dead Wildfowl to DEFRA 

Following confirmation of some bird flu cases in Bedford’s wild bird population, the Council is  reminding people to contact DEFRA if they spot any dead swans, geese, ducks or any other wild  birds. 

Avian Influenza (bird flu) spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body  fluids or faeces, or via contaminated feed, water or by dirty vehicles, clothing and footwear. It isn’t  an airborne virus.  

An ‘Avian Influenza Prevention Zone’ was declared across the whole of England in November, and  from today all bird keepers in England are required to keep their birds indoors. 

Public Health advises that the risk to public health from bird flu is very low. While some strains can  pass to humans, it is very rare and requires very close contact between the human and infected  birds. 

Nevertheless, the public are reminded to not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds. If you  find any dead wild birds such as swans, geese or ducks you should report them the DEFRA helpline  on 03459 33 55 77. There will be notices going up along the Embankment with this information and  further advice. 

Executive meeting on Wednesday 6 January 2021 

Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board Annual Report is available here:  http://www.councillorsupport.bedford.gov.uk/documents/s52805/Item%2006%20BBSCB%20Annual %20Report%202019%20-%202020%20covering%20report.pdf 

Adoption of housing strategy to cover 2021-26. The Housing strategy is available here:  

http://www.councillorsupport.bedford.gov.uk/documents/s52809/Item%2007%20Housing%20Strat egy%20Appendix%20B.pdf 

Transfer of environmental agency control measures at Duckmill and Newnham Weir 

http://www.councillorsupport.bedford.gov.uk/documents/s52810/Item%2008%20Transfer%20of%2 0Environment%20Agency%20public%20safety%20measures.pdf 

Budget 2021/22

It is unclear how much Council Tax will be raised by, though we are expecting a rise as the Council  are expecting the tax base to decrease by £2m 

It is possibly by borrowing they will try to cover some of the deficit but currently Bedford Borough is  uncertain of how much support that they will get from the Government as part of COVID measures. 

We generally revise this report over the month and we will keep you updated on this part of the  report once the situation becomes clearer.  

Primary Schools 

The Government wants our schools to open to their set timetables and it is up to each school to  decide if they can open based on their own risk assessments, but Bedford Borough Council hold the  view that primary schools should only be open for the first two weeks for vulnerable pupils and  children of key workers. They said in a statement that: 

Special schools should stay open, providing for as many of their children who can attend as  possible. 

Children with SEN in mainstream schools should be able to attend if they/their parents want  them to as they are deemed vulnerable (along with children with a social worker and key  worker children). 

All early years settings can stay open as the Department for Education guidance for closing  primary schools in London and Milton Keynes specifically excludes early years, however, this  is a decision for each provider. 

Bedford Borough Council have also said they will not fine parents for children not attending school in  the first two weeks. 

Councillor Coombes responds to local residents concerns about planning 

Cllr Coombes gave support for local residents who have been experiencing issues with the Planning  Department urging them to listen to residents’ concerns. As I am sure you are aware many parishes  have experienced a multitude of problems with Bedford Borough’s Planning Department and you  may be interested to listen to his speech here: 

https://www.facebook.com/BedfordConservativeGroup/videos/1322776161391837

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